Kalifer Deil Philosophy
A Simple Belief System
Kalifer is not religious although he joined
the Baha'is in his late teens since it seemed to
be peace oriented and rather universal. That lasted until he read Beha'u'llah's
'God inspired' Kitab-i-Igan
which he regarded as a 'load of crap'. It didn't matter anyway since the
Baha'is ex-communicated him when he married a
Catholic without their permission.
I think he can best be characterized as
one that Fundamentalists seem to despise more than devil worshipers, a
Secular Humanist. He holds to the idea that you don't have to be religious
to have humane and moral values. God, if He/She exists doesn't seem to be
much involved in the day to day workings of the Universe.
Kal also regards believers as dangerous; The stronger
the belief the more dangerous. The problem with belief is that it becomes
very easy to jump to 'the end justifies the means' style of thinking. This
is not limited to religions but also pervades those that, by position,
money or their self-perceived intellect, think they know what is best for
others. Kal sees this in kings and queens,
politicians, labor leaders, the old and new rich, corporate executives on
down to school principals, PTA presidents or even a Mother or Father in a
family. Decision making is necessary but when that becomes hubris or
self-righteous and is done without consulting the parties involved, one
enters a troubling zone.
Kal's beliefs have to do with tools rather than concepts. He believes that the
tools of Science and the scientific method are more likely to yield results
that are useful for human existence. Contemplating one's navel may be
useful for a relaxation exercise but the knowledge gained from that
experience is not likely to further the goals of man. And yes,
Kal understands that science is a two edged sword but
it is those with unflinching belief systems that often take up and make use of
the other edge.
A Simple Belief System
"I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows." Why not? This is a
harmless belief is it not? It has a certain poetic ring to it and it certainly
won't drive people to kill each other. Yet, I'm uncomfortable with people that
truly believe things akin to this. Such as, that usually fatal diseases can be
cured if you pray hard enough. Those that died while praying, well, they just
didn't pray hard enough or God needed them or their prayers were not sincere or ...
The list of excuses is probably infinite. Then there are those who rely on prayer
or some other incantations or concoctions in lieu of medication found to be efficacious.
These folks have committed suicide with help. Getting close to murder isn't it?
How do you live without beliefs? For some, it is very uncomforting to live without
a detailed roadmap to life. They should be very careful in selecting a belief system
since it can not only control them but those around them. It can exclude rational
thought that conflicts with those beliefs to their detriment, to the detriment
of their families and perhaps well beyond that if these people end up in positions
of influence. All the worlds great religions have had episodes where religious
belief and zeal had catastrophic results.
Beliefs are harmless until you act on them. While this is true it is saying that
these beliefs are not strong enough to act upon. This is somewhat like saying
beliefs are harmless if they are harmless beliefs. Perhaps it would be better
to go to a belief axiom system starting with Asimovís Laws of Robotics. But you
say; we are not robots. Well, yes we are. Robots of the future will be self
directed intelligent machines. The only difference is we are biological
machines and we didn't make ourselves, at least, not in the sense of making robots.
Letís review Asimovís laws of robotics (including the addition of the zeroth law):
0. A robot may not injure humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to
come to harm except where such orders would conflict with the Zeroth Law.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would
conflict with the Zeroth or First Laws.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, except where such protection would conflict
with the Zeroth, First or Second Laws.
Of course, we as humans would find the second law problematic. Let's see if we can
rewrite these laws to be more human oriented:
1) A human may not injure humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
2) A human may not injure another human being, or, through inaction, allow another human
being to come to harm except where following such a path would conflict with the First Law.
3) Our instinct for self preservation should not interfere with the First and Second Law.
This is pretty simple, we have only three laws. As far as self preservation is concerned that
is already built into our program and if we do not preserve ourselves then we may be violating
the second law through future inaction. Perhaps we should also substitute sentient being for
human being to cover all higher animals and future robots as well.
Maybe not, I like meat in my diet.
Humans are more pattern recognition machines than intelligent machines and are set within
an emotional self conscious framework that fools us into thinking otherwise.
If we are intelligent (in terms of what an intelligence tests tests) then we are artificially
intelligent due to programming by others in our environment. There are some who believe
that we are born intelligent with math abilities that just have to be opened like a gift wrap.
They cite some ant that wanders all over the desert then makes a bee line straight back to the nest.
They have the ant doing trig in its little head; not likely. There is probably a simpler explanation and
they just haven't found it. A child brought up by wolves would
get near zero on an intelligence test and this has been observed.
Still, even with a good command of language and arithmetic,
simple logic is beyond the keen of a vast number
of people. Therein lies a problem since many situations can arise which require some fairly
elaborate thought to evaluate a scenario within the confines of these three laws. How does
one conduct oneself as a soldier? How does one handle a situation like Vietnam when drafted
into the service? In science fiction, a robot's brain would fry under such circumstances
since it couldn't possibly evaluate all the different possibilities and outcomes for the
least harmful result. In real life their brains might just shut down and refuse orders.
On the other hand, military robots are not likely to contain Asimovís Laws.
Now let's take the Golden Rule which the West attributes to Christ
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In the East this is attributed to
Confusius five hundred years before
"Don't do to others what you would not want yourself."
Either way, this is a nice restatement of the second law above if you take a broad meaning
of injure. However it is without the qualification of the
first law. The qualification of the first law is necessary since if you are in a position
to do so then it compels you to take action to stop a Hitler or a Stalin.
The first law can also be interpreted to mean do everything to stop environmental damage
since such damage could do great harm and claim future lives.
The above three laws are very activist in the sense that those that follow them with
conviction and intelligence will likely change the World for the better. There is always the
danger that the mentally imbalanced or people with other agendas will distort the laws or
provide misleading data to justify actions that are inimical to these laws. There are no
perfect laws that cannot be undermined by specious data so perhaps healthy skepticism and
eternal vigilance is the only answer.
Copyright © 2003 Kalifer Deil. All Rights Reserved.